Dayton owner: ‘We’re going to be a ghost town’ if people don’t support small businesses



Montgomery County will keep open its Office of CARES Act through the end of this year and extend an important deadline for recipients, a move now permitted under recent federal legislation.

While the grants are now closed, it gives recipients a year longer to spend the money, Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said.

“It doesn’t actually extend the funding, it just lets them know they have until the end of the year to spend existing funding,” he said.

The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act that cleared Congress at the end of December expanded some provisions of the $2 trillion CARES Act passed last March to pay for the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Montgomery County CARES Act spending 
The county distributed more than $97.7 million in seven coronavirus relief program areas.  
Program Amount
Education $24,060,000
Nonprofits $20,000,000
Small business $15,000,000
Housing and utilities $13,000,000
Internal reimbursement $8,700,000
Agriculture $7,000,000
Healthcare $5,000,000
Total $92,760,000
Source: Montgomery County Office of CARES Act

The grants can now be spent through Dec. 31 of this year.

Montgomery County received a $92.77 million allotment directly from the U.S. Department of Treasury, as did other local governments with populations above 500,000.

Montgomery County commissioners agreed last week to extend the deadlines for educational institutions, farmers, nonprofits and small businesses to spend grant money. The initial federal legislation required grants to be spent by the end of last year and reported to the county by Jan. 31.

Of the 1,290 small business grants of $10,000 approved, only about half the recipients have returned a close-out report to the county.

“You now have more time to spend this money to get something that will help you through pandemic,” said Michael Zimmerman, Montgomery County Business Services spokesman.

The new deadline also provides a recipient who might have spent money on a expense that wasn’t permitted to shift that balance toward an allowable expense, Zimmerman said.

Small business owners reached by the Dayton Daily News said they had little trouble spending their grants by the end of 2020 because the situation became so dire months earlier.

John Napier, co-owner of Tuffy Brooks Sporting Goods in Dayton, said the business was shut down from March through May.

“It was terrible,” he said.

The pandemic hit just as schools and families would be gearing up for spring sports.

Napier said the $10,000 grant through Montgomery County’s program was “a definite help” that went toward rent and utilities. The company also received a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan to keep five employees on the job.

Even though small local businesses have reopened, many consumers haven’t come back, continuing to do more purchasing from big online retailers, Napier said.

“Everybody’s supporting these internet companies and not supporting local businesses,” he said. “People have to help support these small businesses or we are just going to be a ghost town.”

Small business owner Shaun Wilson said “every dime was spent” of a grant given to Deeez Cuttz Barbershop in Trotwood.

The money went toward rent, utilities, personal protective equipment and to pay for dividers between the chairs where seven barbers work, Wilson said.

“We have the same needs still,” he said. “The money isn’t coming in like it used to, but the bills are still accumulating.”

All barbershops and salons were forced to close in mid-March and not allowed to reopen until mid-May. But clients have been slow to return. Wilson estimates traffic is down 75%.

“It’s still getting worse, the virus is still out there,” he said. “We have some vaccines, but that’s going to take a while to get around to everyone and make a difference.”

Wilson said the barbers try to pass around the limited work so everyone goes home with a paycheck.

“We have seven different barbers, seven different families, seven sets of bills,” he said. “We spread the love, if you will.”

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